Press about Nate Wooley

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Columbia Icefield: Best Classical Music of 2019 – New York Times
“Columbia Icefield is filled with introspection, solitude, and an uneasy peace. Like the great mountain ice field from which the album takes its name, the music embraces a vast, isolated, but beautiful landscape.” 
Evocative yet never literal, ambitious while approachable, Columbia Icefield easily ranks as Wooley’s most beautiful music yet. 
[It is] safe to say that there is not an uninspired part of the album over the course of the two discs. So, either the system that Wooley has been developing has worked to great effect or the musicians involved have brought such an invigorating and fresh perspective to the performance that nothing could derail them. I suspect the final output here is a mixture of the two, and regardless of how it is constructed, Mutual Aid Music is a fantastic listen. (Paul Acquaro FreeJazzBlog)

…strikingly dynamic, expertly conversational, raptly captivating interplay. (New York Music Daily about Mutual Aid Music)

… often quite beautiful in ways no one, whether musician or listener, could have anticipated. (Phil Freeman, The Wire about Mutual Aid Music)

it delivers exactly what its title implies: assured serendipity and serendipitous assurance, generous deference and friendly challenge, and a firm feeling that everything played is meant to complement and support everything else that’s played, and everyone who played it. (Steve Smith Night after Night Mutual Aid Music – Album of the Week)

Nate Wooley Quintet – (Dance to) the Early Music in Troy Collins’ (AAJ) best of 2015 list
One of the year’s most audacious releases, trumpeter Nate Wooley’s reimagining of Wynton Marsalis’ early work is a revelation, bringing the art form’s modern evolution conceptually full circle. Deconstructing Marsalis’ advanced post-bop using avant-garde techniques, Wooley revisits material that initially inspired him (without irony), reworking these tunes as his own.

Derek Taylor (Dusted in Exile) about Nate Wooley Quintet – (Dance to) the Early Music 

Phil Zampino (The Squid’s Ear) about Nate Wooley Quintet – (Dance to) the Early Music  

Mark Corroto (AAJ) about Battle Pieces 
Wooley is a member of the new generation of trumpet players who move seamlessly between the genres of traditional jazz, free improvisation, classical, noise, and new music. (…) The music (and this particular lineup) succeeds at the merger of composed new music, free improvisation, and extended technique. Wooley’s triumph is the euphonic combination of all these elements.
The set up and sequencing of the album, featuring the four distinct voices, makes for a captivating listen. Battle Pieces is a thoughtful and unusually constructed album that offers the patient listener a fine musical experience.
Bruce Lee Gallanter (DMG) about Battle Pieces 
One can tell that Mr. Wooley put a great deal of thought into the composing of and picking the personnel for this rich masterwork. (…) Besides the consistently spirited playing of Mr. Wooley, the other three members of this quartet sound different from what they do in their own ensembles, hence there is a unified group sound here makes this even more impressive.
Gijsbert Kamer, de Volkskrant, about Nate Wooley Quintet at North Sea Jazz 2014
Het zoeken naar avontuur wordt beloond. Zo is het optreden van trompettist Nate Wooley met zijn kwintet spannend tot de laatste minuut. Op het programma staan onder meer nieuwe arrangementen van vroeg werk van Wynton Marsalis. Het is fascinerend hoe Wooley met zijn band wegloopt van Marsalis’ oorspronkelijke melodie. Wooley blaast ook nog eens als een bezetene. Van hoog piepend tot mooi rond en fluisterend, hij lijkt op trompet alles aan te kunnen.
Stuart Broomer, The New York City jazz record about (Sit In) The Throne of Friendship
Nate Wooley is among a group of distinguished younger trumpeters redefining the sonic possibilities of the instrument. More than that though, he combines both rare invention and rare taste across a stylistic range that stretches from free improvisation to his own version of postbop. (…)
The Nate Wooley Sextet is a variation on the Quintet that recorded 2010’s (Put Your) Hands Together. A forum for Wooley’s compositions, (Sit In) The Throne of Friendship retains bass clarinetist/baritone saxophonist Josh Sinton, vibraphonist Matt Moran and drummer Harris Eisenstadt while bassist Eivind Opsvik either alternates with newly arrived tuba player Dan Peck or they appear together. The style suggests the Blue Note ‘free’ school and the simultaneous presence of vibraphone and bass clarinet emphasizes the Eric Dolphy influence (“Make Your Friend Feel Loved” seems to reference Dolphy’s “G.W.”). This is exploratory, varied music, alive with passion and dialogue. It’s also exuberant, whether Sinton shouting through his baritone or Peck crafting an unaccompanied introduction. While Wooley is as ‘at home’ with free improvisation as any musician, the forms here emphasize the expressiveness of his lines: on the mournful “My Story, My Story” he combines variations of pitch and inflection to achieve an emotional depth equal to that of Miles Davis or Don Cherry, rare terrain for any trumpeter.

Nate Wooley voted one of the Musicians Of The Year 2012 by Stef of The Free Jazz Collective
Nate Wooley has always been one of the stars on this blog, yet now again he is part of the best albums of the year, with RED Trio on “Stem”, with Christian Weber and Paul Lytton on “Six Feet Under”, his very adventurous solo albums “(8) Syllables”,  “The Almond”, then his collaboration with Bruno Duplant and Julien Héraud on “Movement & Immobility”, and in a more traditional format on Harris Eisenstadt’s “Canada Day III”. Some absolutely fascinating recent work by him still needs some review on this blog, but they are in the pipeline :  “The Nows” with Paul Lytton, “Instrumentals” with Peter Evans, “From The Discrete To The Particular” with Joe Morris and Agusti Fernández, and on Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten’s “NY Quartet“. You have a number of musicians who are part of the scene, or who manage to create their own voice and carve out their own space in music, yet Nate Wooley is at the absolute center of it, shaping future style, contributing to music history and influencing lots of other musicians with his sometimes uncompromising approach … like Barry Guy and Evan Parker. You can sometimes question what he’s doing, but I guess that’s what it means to be boundary-breaking.

Peter Margasak in Downbeat about The Nows (****)
Twenty-seven years separate the British percussionist Paul Lytton and Americal trumpeter Nate Wooley, with the former helping to define the language of free improvisation starting in the late ’60s and the latter doing his best to reshape and extend its language over the last decade or so. But as reinforced on their latest collaborative effort, they share a certain spirit; they both came out of the jazz tradition, and no matter how far afield they’ve pushed their work, that jazz foundation informs it in the best possible ways. (…) This is improvised music that steamrolls idiomatic limitations.
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Glenn Astarita in All About Jazz about The Nows
Ultra-progressive jazz and avant-garde expressionism are trumpeter Nate Wooley’s toy stores, so to speak. He’s well-established in the modern era’s radical music scene and teams here with venerable Euro-jazz percussionist Paul Lytton (…) Brilliant minds think alike, and the proof resides in the multifarious modes of delivery conjured up by these artists. It’s not only about stirring improvisational encounters, because the musicians also sculpture a seemingly endless array of sounds, employing multiphonics and tonal diversions amid moments of anguish, jocularity, and brazen exchanges. (…) In sum, the musicians project a symposium of fleeting thoughts and emotional upheavals while sustaining interest from beginning to end.
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Paul Lytton / Nate Wooley / Ikue Mori / Ken Vandermark: The Nows – review by Marc Corroto in All About Jazz (Nov 2012)
Consider the great duos of the cinema, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson and so on-what each successful duo has in common, is a chemistry, an attraction or spark between them. Such is the case with the musical duo of percussionist Paul Lytton and trumpeter Nate Wooley.
What each of those film stars also has, is individual talent capable of starring in a lead role sans partner. Likewise, Lytton and Wooley (his junior by some 27 years) are masters of their own instruments. Lytton was a force behind the London free jazz scene of the 1960s, he founded the London Music Collective with (among others) Evan Parker and Derek Bailey. His drums can be heard behind groups led by Barry Guy and the American leader Ken Vandermark. Wooley’s trumpet is seemingly ubiquitous these days, in his quintet, solo performance, with groups led by Joe Morris or Mary Halvorson and in duo with Peter Evans. As with any fantastic partnership though, Lytton and Wooley always seem to raise their game when they are performing together.
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AMN Reviews: Paul Lytton and Nate Wooley – The Nows – by Dan Coffey
The nucleus of musicians on The Nows is percussionist Paul Lytton and Nate Wooley, an up-and-coming trumpet legend who is also credited on this album with “amplifier.” (…)
The Nows is a fantastic study in contrasts, from the whimsy and delicacy (and occasional noise!) of the concert with Mori, to the high-speed blustering conversation with Vandermark. This two-disc set showcases two generations of free improvisers (Lytton, of course, has been around for decades) closing the generation gap and making extraordinary music as a duo and with two of the finest American improvisers.
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Dowtown Music Gallery NYC
“After “Creak Above 33″ (Psi), and the eponymous LP (Broken Research), one wonders what would come out next from this magical duo that has been hitting the road for the past 5 years. Well, more amazing duo music but also trios with Ikue Mori (the Stone sessions in New York) or Ken Vandermark (Hideout sessions in Chicago) make this an outstanding release by some of the most open minded musicians on earth. I’m sure this double record will be featured on many end of the year lists.” – BLG

Breaking the Silence – Article in the Wire by Dan Warburton – April 2012
“It’s nice to be crammed in a basement,” said Nate Wooley to Kurt Gottschalk in Wire #337 of a venue he played recently in his adopted hometown of Brooklyn, whose hustle and bustle is a long way from where the 38-year-old trumpeter grew up. “Back in Clatskanie, Oregon, there were no cars revving their engines at all hours, no cellphone conversations or loud televisions, no background noise whatsoever, except the wind or the rain,” he recalls.
But there was plenty of jazz in the Wooley household. His father had a huge record collection and played reeds in a local big band led by trumpeter Chip Hinckley. “I thought he was the coolest guy on Earth,” says Wooley, remembering what drew him to the trumpet in the first place. “He had a beautiful sound, really into Bunny Berigan, never played flashy solos.” You can say the same of Wooley, who’s been patiently been honing his skills since he relocated to New York after studies at the Lamont School of Music in Denver, Colorado, where he also hooked up with improv road warrior Jack Wright, “one of those ‘learn by example’ guys, constantly trying new things and integrating new vocabulary. Jack opened up a lot of avenues for me, introducing me to lowercase music and to a lot of players.”
Wooley’s mastery of new trumpet techniques was already in evidence on his 2004 debut album, _ is an apparition (Rossbin) with trombonist Steve Swell and percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani, but he’s quick to distance himself from the dogma of reductionist improv. “I did go through a period where I embraced the low-volume, slow-pace, vertical kind of playing, but I got too caught up in it and started losing myself. I was engrossed with how Greg Kelley, Axel Dörner and Franz Hautzinger made those sounds into potent music, but it wasn’t about a particular aesthetic as much as the technical aspect of playing. I came to Evan Parker and Paul Lytton at about the same time too,” he adds.
Wooley met percussionist Lytton in Cologne in 2006 when they played together in a birthday concert for Carl Ludwig Huebsch. “At the height of my obsession with really quiet, sparse playing, in the middle of a very minimalist set, Paul dropped a bunch of stuff, making a gigantic sound. It was jarring, loud and amazing, and shocked me out of the stupor I’d gotten myself into by being so dogmatic about my own playing. My musical aesthetic changed a lot because of that split second. Paul pushed me into dealing with my own voice.”
Wooley describes his first tour with Lytton as “the hardest thing I’ve ever done, musically – I wasn’t prepared to deal with the force of him behind the kit night after night without other people to fall back on.” On their forthcoming Clean Feed album, there’s Ikue Mori and Ken Vandermark to fall back on. Sourced from a later US tour, it’ll be Wooley and Lytton’s third release together – after an LP for Ben Hall’s Broken Research in 2008 and Creak Above 33 (psi) two years later – unless Six Feet Under, a trio with bassist Christian Weber on No Business pips it to the post.
“Sometimes this speed of work makes my records more lo-fi, but I like that,” Wooley admits. “That’s why I’m attracted to improvisation and noise – there’s an immediacy there I don’t find in more commercial jazz, classical or pop recordings.” The list of his current collaborative ventures is as long as it is impressive, from trios (with Fred Lonberg-Holm and Jason Roebke, and Crackle Knob with Reuben Radding and Mary Halvorson) to quartets (cellist Daniel Levin’s) to quintets (Harris Eisenstadt’s Canada Day and Wooley’s own), not forgetting occasional amplifier meltdowns with fellow trumpet wizard Peter Evans.
But working alone in the studio has always been important to Wooley, and The Almond (Pogus) and [8] Syllables (Peira) are important recent additions to a solo discography that began in 2005 with Wrong Shape To Be A Storyteller (Creative Sources). And they couldn’t be more different. For The Almond (an early version of which is available for download at Compost and Height), Wooley drew on his experience working with Phill Niblock’s Experimental Intermedia archive – he curates the website for the Database of Recorded American Music – to create a majestic dronework of superimposed trumpet tones.
“I realized that what makes drone good is my ability to follow micro-events within the static sound, and the way my perception over time starts to weight their importance. I thought if I could extend the earlier version it would start to skew the listener’s perception and make those events bigger and more dramatic, so I changed the structure, scored the tape loops out and redid the whole thing, changing the mix and spatialization and getting the ghost voices to sing a little more out of the overtones.”
The starting point for [8] Syllables was the English version of the International Phonetic Alphabet. Wooley reconfigured his embouchure according to the mouth shape, throat constriction and tongue and teeth positions associated with each phoneme, “and then let the sound come out without trying to control it. When you hold the position for a long time, circular breathing, things start to break up and that’s where the interest and emotion comes in.” The result is a thrilling, dangerous experience, and Zeus no doubt thought so too, sending a thunderstorm over Brooklyn while Wooley was recording it at the Issue Project Room.
Nate Wooley pauses for breath before heading off to his soundcheck for a gig at The Stone with percussionist Ben Hall. “There are times where I just, mentally and musically, have to grow my beard out, walk into the woods and be alone,” he muses. But with forthcoming projects including a double trumpet double drums outfit with Peter Evans, Paul Lytton and Jim Black, another quartet with C. Spencer Yeh, Colin Stetson and Ryan Sawyer and tours later this year with Hugo Antunes and Chris Corsano, I doubt he’ll have time for that. Not in Brooklyn, in any case.

Paul Serralheiro about the Nate Wooley Quintet in Squids Ear
The tones and textures of traditional jazz trumpet and the extended techniques that are common currency among free players come together in this session led by the young trumpeter Nate Wooley. A hyperactive denizen of the New York scene, Wooley has penned all the pieces here and sounds unmistakably like a voice worth listening to.
In putting it all together, Wooley is his own man, his main strength being the facility with which he can juggle various elements of post-modern jazz and make it seem effortless and natural — that and writing some appealing, sinewy themes.

Glenn Astarita about the Nate Wooley Quintet in All about Jazz
Praise is in order because of the program’s captivating synchronicity, artfully scaling between structure and improvisation to complement an abundance of polytonal facets. With penetrating compositions and thoughtful improvisational metrics, Wooley’s bronze-toned lines and prophetic choruses loom as a commanding force.
Wooley and associates offer brain food for the psyche’s insatiable appetite. His solicitous and largely mesmeric arrangements reaffirm his mounting prominence in the boundless realm of jazz improvisation.

Doug Detrick about the Nate Wooley Quintet in Jazz
Trumpeter Nate Wooley, with his personal language consisting of extended technique and taut, haunting lyricism, is one of the most captivating trumpeters around. (…)
Wooley found a sublime balance between a warm, melodic sound and the throwing-a-refrigerator-down-a-staircase sort of sounds for which he is known. All five musicians struck a similar posture, where freedom and allegiance to the tune created a beautiful tension throughout, creating moments of resolution like a held breath finally released.

Troy Collins about the Nate Wooley Quintet in Point of departure
A mostly spare and relaxed affair, (Put Your) Hands Together is inspired in part by Wooley’s formative experiences playing in big bands alongside his father, with each piece dedicated to one of the important women in his life. In a March 2011 interview with fellow trumpeter Douglas Detrick, published by FONT (Festival of New Trumpet Music), Wooley describes the album’s origin: “It’s mostly a thank you to the women that raised me, my mom, my wife, my grandmother and all of her sisters … It’s also a nod and a thank you to my dad who has always wanted me to just make a record where I am playing notes in time with a rhythm section … Those parts are for him and for my mom who also would like to hear a record that doesn’t sound like ‘breaking glass’ as she puts it.” Conceding to their wishes, Wooley integrates foundational jazz elements (standard chord changes, recognizable time signatures, etc.) into his oblique themes, yielding a beautiful neo-traditionalist hybrid subtly reminiscent of the adventurous 1960s Blue Note records of Eric Dolphy, Andrew Hill and Bobby Hutcherson.
Though (Put Your) Hands Together finds Wooley occasionally tempering his uncompromising technique to play actual changes in straight time, there is no sense of concession in this music; his efforts in this context are as sincere and compelling as his more abstract efforts. This compromise between extreme expressionism and a more conventional approach highlights his unique sensibility, presenting his singular talents in a new light, one which resounds with endless potential.

Tim Sprangers about Nate Wooley solo at Worm Rotterdam at De Volkskrant – 4 out of 5 stars (in Dutch)
Moet een trompettist per se blazen door zijn instrument? Nee hoor. Nate Wooley tikt zachtjes tegen het koper, voorover gebogen, een paar centimeter van het pedaal waar zijn rechtervoet op rust. We horen de ruizen suizen van links naar rechts en de distortionklanken verweven zich tot een noisetapijt. Is dit echt het geluid van een trompet? Jazeker. Misschien wel meer dan ooit.
Er lopen pessimistische figuren in de jazzwereld rond die beweren dat alles al een keer geklonken heeft en muziek in niets vernieuwend kan zijn. De basis is al lang geleden gelegd, het is nu slechts een kwestie van bevindingen op andere manieren ophoesten.
Met zo’n verroeste instelling en beperkte blik kan het zo maar eens saai worden om kunst te consumeren. Zolang individuen vindingrijk genoeg zijn, zullen nieuwe wegen worden geplaveid. Eigengereide personen die net wat anders durven te kijken, hun instrument binnenstebuiten keren. Kunstenaars met een filosofie die alles in twijfel trekt. Waarom blazen op dat instrument als je er ook op kunt trommelen. Waarom metaal als hout ook mooi klinkt. Waarom überhaupt mooi en wat is mooi? Of de muziek goed of gelukt klinkt, wat maakt het uit. Zonderlingen inspireren en helpen muziek vooruit. Zij maken het spannend.
Wooley is zo’n muzikant die verbaast en verder kijkt dan zijn blikveld reikt. Hij is opgenomen in een rijtje jazzvernieuwers als Anthony Braxton, Evan Parker en Peter Evans. En gerespecteerd door jazzmeester John Zorn, met wie hij geregeld speelt in New York. In de Rotterdamse Worm (‘Instituut voor Avant-gardistische Recreatie’) overweldigt hij met een soloset van slechts een minuut of twintig, genoeg stof om dagen over na te kunnen denken.
Via circular breathing zoekt hij naar boventonen en microtonen in een elektronisch klankveld van ongehoorde geluiden. Het indrukken van de ventielen heeft nauwelijks invloed op de toon, maar dient meer als percussie. Wooleys zoektocht naar een intensiteit en intimiteit van het instrument mag je live meebeleven. Je hoort niet simpelweg de tonen uit de trompet, maar de lucht zoeven door de buizen. Alsof je met je kop in de toeter bent beland. Zulke ervaringen verrijken de mens.

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